The brewpub. For a beer lover it is a thing of beauty. I have visited well over 300 of these places in my beer travels, and to me they are what craft beer is all about. Fresh as can be local beer at its very best. What is a brewpub? A brewpub is a microbrewery which serves food or is combined with a pub. Most of the beer at a brewpub can only be consumed at the brewpub itself, and it is a local business meant for local beer consumption. There are some national brewpub chains, but for the most part brewpubs are local enterprises that serve their local community.
Brewpubs are great places to go if you love beer, because great beer is brewed literally a few feet from where it is served, with great food to match. I have been to hundreds of these places over the years, and have had some amazingly good beers. The Willimantic Brewing Company and Main Street Cafe of Willimantic, CT is "beer for beer" my all time favorite brewpub. This may not be one of the most famous brewpubs in America, but in my experience it is a fantastic brewpub, one of the best in New England, if not the entire United States.
What makes Willimantic such a great place is they offer such quality and variety. Willimantic brews a vast number of beer styles, and you'll always find six to eight taps of Willi brews on, but that will be flanked with 20-30 New England/East Coast/and beyond beers as well. See, Willimantic does a great thing, not only are they a brewpub, but they are a beer bar as well. Located in a 90 year old Post Office in downtown Willimantic, CT this place has it all. Its a great restaurant with a menu that goes from wings and burgers to the fanciest of entrees. There is a fully stocked bar, an impressive bottle beer selection, and a huge wine list as well. With a brewpub/brewery it should be all about the beer and Willimantic delivers on that, and then some.
I have enjoyed a variety of styles brewed at Willimantic from pale ales, to old bruins, to barleywines, to fall festive ales. Willimantic has special beer events, and beer dinners. They once had three different vintages(97,98,99) of their fantastic barleywine called Willi Whammer on to try for vertical comparison. Where else can you find beers like Bigfoot, New England Imperial Stout, Brooklyn Brown Ale, Willimantic VEG IPA, a cask conditioned ale pumped from a beer engine, and bottles of Grim Reaper Barleywine all under one roof? Willimantic Brewing Company and Main Street Cafe does it all. I have come away pleased on each and every visit, and that is why they make my all time top 10 lists of brewpubs in the US. For more information about this fantastic CT brewpub/beer bar/restaurant visit their site at: http://www.willibrew.com/